News Releases

October 26, 2006

An open letter to participants at the

World Health Organization
Meeting to develop guidelines for the implementation of the tobacco product regulation provisions of the WHO FCTC.

Ottawa, Canada
 26-28 October 2006

Dear participant:

Welcome to Ottawa.  I hope you find your time in our city to be enjoyable and that you find our hospitality warmer than our weather.

The task before you and your fellow participants at WHO’s Meeting to develop guidelines for the implementation of articles 9 and 10 of the FCTC is challenging and complex.  Your deliberations will be coloured by your knowledge that the consequences of error are significant, that the policy goals are not yet well defined, and that there is little scientific or community consensus on key points.

I hope you will allow us to suggest that caution should be your guide, and that you should keep uppermost in your mind the following key points:

o        Reducing toxic emissions from cigarettes does not necessarily reduce risk to smokers.

o        Reducing the risks from smoking requires a reduction in smoking. Developing methods to test (and later reduce) attractiveness, addictiveness and palatability of tobacco products should be a higher priority than developing methods to test (and potentially reduce) disease-causing substances in smoke.

o        Tobacco companies must bear the responsibility for their products, including the cost of any testing.

Above all, we urge you not to fall into the trap so cleverly being set by BAT, Altria, and other tobacco companies. 

These companies, and their friends in some governments and their unwitting accomplices in some scientific bodies, want the the WHO/FCTC processes to result in product standards that can be applied globally.  For the tobacco companies, these guidelines then will be marketed as a WHO “good housekeeping seal of approval.”

It may well be that you will conclude that the best course of action to recommend in this instance is no regulatory or standard-setting action at all, but continued surveillance, research and reflection.

We have taken the liberty of attaching our own analysis, with lessons learned,  based on our decades-long experience in Canada. 


 With best wishes,

 Neil Collishaw                   Cynthia Callard 
Research Director              Executive Director